Gig & EP Review: Ellen and the Escapades

[singlepic id=48 w=320 h=240 float=left]Terms like “Feel-good event of the year!” get littered around far too liberally. However, last week at the Brudenell one of the most heartwarming gigs I’ve seen this year took place.

After winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition this year, and being picked for the Leeds and Reading BBC Introducing stages in 2009, their EP release is long over due – but worth the wait. This is proper, great songwriting, and the four tracks are packed with emotion and respectfully produced.

The EP “Launch” – despite the EP having been available for a fair few months – was a really wonderful affair.


First up, Sam Airey. I listened to his Whiska’s-produced Season’s Change EP, and was very impressed, but that wasn’t a patch on his live set – looking totally natural and at ease with guitars on who-knows-what tunings, his voice was reminicent of a young Nick Drake.

I was wondering for a while why The Travelling Band sounded so familiar, putting it down to the catchyness of their tunes, which along with their spot-on harmonies and assured musicality made for a great set. It turns out that we (March of Dimes) supported them last year in Manchester. Oops. That said, it was a tremendous set and they’re clearly getting better and better.

A slightly weather-worn troupe of Escapades came on stage, with Ellen fighting that nasty throat infection that’s going round, and bassist Andy just about recovered from some ghastly sounding thing that took him out of action for the first half of the tour. Andy was, I am reliably informed, admirably replaced by Gary Stewart, despite not being tall enough to reach the tuning keys at the end.

As soon as the music started though, you’d never know. The stage at the brudenell – which generally looks like some of the places I woke up in during my student days after particularly hefty houseparties – was made all the more cozy with lamps, rugs and fairy lights.

I had only heard four or five tracks by Ellen and the Escapades through the EP and an online vid, but every song sounded both fresh and like an old favourite. An hour of great tracks flew by, showing that not only is the EP well worth getting and listening to over and over, but there’s plenty more great material to come too.

It was great to see so many faces from the Leeds music “scene” there too – Adam and a couple of the girls from LeedsIndieRadio, Gary Stewart (who’s album I finally bought, and sounds brilliant too – but more about that later), Charlie Barnes (who, as always, is working on some really interesting and exciting stuff), Chris Selman (almost unrecognisable in his day-guise as Teacher rather than Popstar… I mean how cool a teacher is THAT to have?) and a whole bunch of other people besides.

It’s clear there’s a lot of love for Ellen and the Escapades right now, it’s rightly deserved, and I do think we will see plenty more of her before long.

All photos ©2010 JoMurricane

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